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It was early 2010, and the Australian actor had just been offered the lead role on the reboot of the classic crime drama Hawaii Five-0, stepping into the shoes of the legendary Jack Lord to play the 50th state’s taciturn top cop, Steve McGarrett. Accepting meant moving to Oahu, in the center of the planet’s loveliest island archipelago. It should have been a no-brainer. Cue that big wave and the theme song by the Ventures:

Dum-duh-da-da-da-dum …

“I was conflicted,” says, reflecting on the decision from his house in Waikiki’s idyllic Diamond Head. “I’d done two network shows before that, neither of which had gone past a season.” He’d played vampire/ private investigator Mick St. John on the short-lived 2007 supernatural romance . A year, canceled after just eight episodes. Though anything seemed better than being penniless in Los Angeles, to suffer through another failed show in the middle of the Pacific, 2,500 miles from the mainland, was a risk he wasn’t sure he wanted to take.

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